Jindal a non-factor in legislative process thus far
Gov. BOBBY JINDAL’s appointment of Breaux Bridge native SCOTT ANGELLE as interim lieutenant governor clearly settled who the No. 2 person in state government is for the short term.
The lingering question in the halls of the Capitol? Who is No. 1?
Most observers would say it’s either Speaker of the House JIM TUCKER or Senate President JOEL CHAISSON, as Jindal has taken a series of legislative defeats in the past two weeks, which has largely been dwarfed by all of the media attention on the tragic oil rig explosion and spill.
Consider the following : 1. Last week the House Appropriations Committee, at Republican Speaker Tucker’s urging and over the vocal objection of the Jindal administration, passed legislation that gives legislative oversight to how the Louisiana Recovery Authority spends the remaining $3 billion in federal recovery funds. Tucker’s bill even allows local government the autonomy to spend the money in alternative fashions not related to rebuilding/recovery. 2. The House and Senate have thus far breezed through legislation Jindal opposes to tap into the Rainy Day Fund for $198 million (the fund contains more than $700 million) to help close the budget deficit for fiscal year ending June 30. This effort is being led by Chaisson, a Destrehan Democrat. The legislators are largely ignoring Jindal’s opening day of session plan to instead use funds reserved for an LSU Charity Hospital settlement with the federal government to close the gap. 3. Democratic Sen. JOE MCPHERSON of Woodworth, a Jindal opponent who is by no means considered a force in the Senate, was successful in legislatively repealing the administrative license plate fee increase Jindal implemented by Executive Order before the start of the session. McPherson garnered 21 votes, while the Jindal team lobbied hard against it. Even with State Police Col. MIKE EDMONSON and Chief of Staff TIMMY TEEPELL looking on in the Senate Gallery, Jindal forces could muster only seven votes to prevent the repeal. A stunning defeat. 4. Sen. ED MURRAY, a Democrat from New Orleans, was successful in passing Senate Bill 18 out of committee, over the vocal objection and opposition of the Jindal administration, which will give the Senate the power to confirm or reject Jindal’s appointees to the new board governing the soon-to-be-constructed Charity Teaching Hospital in New Orleans. One would be hard pressed to find a week in legislative history that has been worse for a governor, or where such an erosion of the governor’s power has occurred. Legislators, and now apparently even the governor’s own legislative leadership, no longer fear opposing the administration — a rarity in Louisiana legislative history. While Jindal has been understandably very occupied with the state’s response to the oil spill, this series of defeats points out two major challenges he faces: His very shallow relations with individual legislators (he does not personally engage himself in the process) will make it very difficult for him to sway them to support him on politically sensitive votes; and, with the exception of the affable Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle, he has little to no horsepower on his staff in terms of legislative skill. This does not bode well for Jindal, as the state faces a number of significant financial, and now environmental, crises in the coming year.
Assessing Long-Term Speaker Pro Tempore Fallout
The recent election of state Rep. JOEL ROBIDEAUX to the No. 2 position in the House of Representatives was unprecedented in that it was the first time in at least the past 25 years that a leadership election came down to a public vote. Normally, heads are counted behind closed doors, and one candidate concedes, sparing the body of 105 from a divisive vote between its own. This old goat has nibbled around enough to clearly learn who the winners and losers of the Robideaux election were.
The Winners: 1. Lafayette and UL — As the No. 2 Man in the House, Robideaux will now be “in the room” when budget expenditure decisions are finalized on the House side, which could pay huge dividends for Lafayette business interests as well as UL. 2. NANCY LANDRY — She stuck with her home boy and mentor and was rewarded with a seat on the powerful House and Governmental Affairs Committee when Speaker Jim Tucker demoted some Republicans for supporting Robideaux’s rival, Democratic Rep. NOBLE ELLINGTON of Winnfield. As a committee member, she will decide on how legislative districts are redrawn and reapportioned population-wise. Very powerful position. 3. PAGE CORTEZ — With Robideaux now the man-in-waiting in terms of succeeding Jim Tucker as speaker of the House, Robideaux will focus his sights on being the next speaker of the House after the 2011 elections — and not run for the vacated Senate seat created by Mike Michot’s term-limited retirement. This opens the door for freshman Rep. Page Cortez, a Republican, to be Michot’s successor. 4. RICKEY HARDY — As one of only a handful of black legislators to support Robideaux, the Democrat places himself in position to be the go-to man in the Black Caucus. He’ll have the ear of the House leadership. 5. MIKE MICHOT — He reportedly worked hard for Robideaux behind the scenes, figuring it would not only enhance Lafayette’s influence, but likely help mend his past turbulent relationship with Tucker, as Robideaux can serve as a great conduit between the two. 6. FRED MILLS — He made Robideaux’s nominating speech and is credited with helping secure a handful of black votes, which proved vital. Under a future Robideaux speakership, Mills will be able to choose which committee he wants to chair.
The Losers: 1. JACK MONTOUCET — In the end, the Crowley Democrat stuck with his party versus his own delegation, making it unlikely he will see Michot or Robideaux break a sweat to help fund anything in his district. 2. BERNARD LEBAS — also stuck with his party versus his Acadiana delegation. Same will hold true on funding of his Evangeline Parish projects. 3. Franklin’s SAM JONES and Eunice’s MICKEY GUILLORY — see Nos. 1 and 2 above.
JUNE 19 Former Saint Steve Gleason, who is paralyzed by ALS, released a statement Tuesday in response to the Atlanta radio station's skit making fun of him and the disease, this Picayune post reports. What did he say? He said he'd accepted the apology of the DJs who did it, notes that at least the incident has got people talking about ALS, and asks anyone who is burning to take action about it to do so -- by helping him fight ALS.
JUNE 19 Blogger Ian McGibboney takes a look at the Gleason incident in this post. He makes a good argument about the difference between having free speech and being free from consequences for your speech (which none of us is). He also admits that many of us got upset before we listened to the skit -- but lets us know that the reality is far worse than we can imagine. It was the incredibly bad judgment, even more than the actual speech, that probably got those DJs fired, he opines.
JUNE 19 Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake writes about Sen. Guillory's switch to the GOP in this post. He writes what most political watchers in Louisiana know: Guillory was a Republican before he decided to run for the senate seat in a mostly-D St. Landry district, and has switched back now that he plans to run for Lt. Gov. in a mostly-R state. But how come Blake missed Guillory's appearance on a TLC pageant show? Now that is a video we'd like to see. (Again).
JUNE 19 Here's another Washington Post blog post about a Louisiana politician, and it's just plain scathing. Ezra Klein says Jindal's Politico post was "insulting" to the intelligence of voters, and adds that Jindal is personifying the "stupid" he's railed against, by being an "elite" who convinces GOP activists of "things that aren't true." Me-ow.
JUNE 19 Here's Gov. Jindal's post in Politico, in which he asks the GOP to get over losing to Obama (again) and stop "the bedwetting." (Uh, what?) He gives his Republican buddies what is probably a nerd's idea of a coach's motivational talk, which starts with a list of accomplishments that they can't seem to exploit and ending with an absurd description of liberals that sounds like a character treatment for a Fox "News" movie scripted by Gordon Liddy. Sure, he's preaching to the choir, but even the choir's not this gullible.
JUNE 19 Lamar Parmentel read Gov. Jindal's post on Politico, but thinks it was so dumb it probably was published in the wrong paper. This post by Lamar on the Daily Kingfish opines that possibly Jindal's post was destined for the Onion -- because the governor couldn't possibly be serious here. If you listen closely, you can hear the staff of the Kingfish giggling.
JUNE 19 Blogger Robert Mann posts from Turkey, a country he has visited several times in the past few years. Mann gives an interesting overview of the current political and societal climate of the country, which -- if you're living under a rock and don't know -- is experiencing protests and turmoil these days. Mann promises to post as much as he can during his trip, which should be fascinating reading.
JUNE 19 Blogger CB Forgotston says the legislature is keeping the vicious cycle going with its funding of new buildings for the community college/technical college system. Universities across the state need maintenance and improvement on existing buildings, and the solution is to build new buildings at other schools? By the time the bonds are paid off, those buildings will be falling down, too, CB says.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to offer shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.